Planning archaeology in Second Life (2)

Eric over at Digging Digitally commented on my plan to build a virtual excavation in Second Life, and especially my thoughts on linking to outside archaeological databases – like Open Context. XML is definitely the way forward in this regard, and he provides some links to different kinds of data in the Open Context repository:

(1) Here’s a link to XML data for all small finds from Petra that have pictures (from the faceted browse).

(2) Here’s a link to XML data for a specific sheep radius from Petra.

(3) Here’s another link to XML data for an elephant capital also from Petra.

Although there’s contextual information, the contexts don’t have very clear spatial referencing, so it’ll be hard to simply put these data into a good Second Life 3D view. Having some clear common standard for spatial referencing in 3D will be really useful, as well as clear conventions on how to visualize archaeological data when detailed spatial referencing isn’t available.

Students would use virtual planning frames to record their work (drawing them up in Paint or something simple, then emailing the plans to me)… anyway, it’s all still in flux.

I might use Nabonidus for the students to do their recording – here are some of its features (note that it’s free!):

» Nabonidus is a web application designed for Archaeological Excavation data storage, sharing, manipulation and analysis. It aims to revolutionize the way we as Archaeologists collect, analyze and interpret excavation data:

  • Simple data collection
  • — all excavation data can be stored simply and easily in the Nabonidus database which can be accessed at anytime from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

  • Complete data privacy
  • — all data is stored securely and excavations can mark their data as public or private as they see fit.

  • Immediate results
  • — Nabonidus gives meaningful statistical feedback immediately upon entering data for your dig.

  • Cross excavation analysis
  • — Nabonidus’ powerful search engine allows easy cross excavation analysis.

  • Simple dig configuration
  • — Nabonidus allows you total control over what data your excavation needs to record and how private or public you would like that data to be.

  • It’s free
  • — Nabonidus is free to any excavation run by a University, charitable or not-for-profit organisation. Please go the Register page to sign up. You can be adding contextual data to your excavation within 5 minutes.

  • Future versions
  • — a light weight version of Nabonidus for Pocket PCs is currently in development which will enable excavators to input data in real time from their trench. We are also extending the functionality of the search engine, trying to import as much public excavation data as we can as well as adding Harris Matrix and excavation management functionality.

    2 thoughts on “Planning archaeology in Second Life (2)

    1. Ahh!

      Excellent idea! From what I understand, Nabonidus is also mainly based on the MOLAS recording system, which is extremely useful. This project could give students an excellent basis for learning field techniques and recording.

      I’m looking forward to watching this unfold!

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